Jack Journal5 The Frozen March

I overheard the chatter of the small group of children as they approached our small caravan. My father greeted them while I checked the logs for today’s sales.

“Mister!” one of the children stepped forward towards my father, addressing him gleefully “Can we have a rope? My da says he’ll make us a swing if he had a rope!” the other children join in with their agreement. The human boy was small, maybe 7 years, clothes a bit ragged. I imagine he’s the son of a farmer. Given his bright hair and freckles, I’d put my coin on O’neil’s son.

My father grabbed a 25 foot coil of rope, placing it up on the counter, “Hmm this should do it, lad. That’ll be 5 silver.”

The children all looked amongst each other, one of the boys producing a single copper piece and shuffling it forward to the boy in front. The look of disappointment was obvious, but one of the dark haired girls in the back stepped forward and put a handful of colored stoned up on the counter.

“I found these m’self,” the girl stated with a look of assurance.

Father stroked his mustache and picked up one of the stones, “Oh yes, very fine indeed, young miss.” He set that stone off to the side and shuffled the rest forward. The stone he kept looked like a mix of jade green and obsidian black. “Hang on to the rest of these.” My father finished, allowing the young girl to collect her remaining stones while the rest of the children fought over carrying the rope, one of them calling out “Thank you, mister” as they made off down the road.

My father took the green and black stone and placed it inside a small jewelry box he kept with several miscellaneous trinkets he bartered from the townsfolk. He was a generous man in that fashion. It didn’t make sense to me, especially as he always cut it from my pay. Suppose I won’t be visiting the tavern this week.

Father turned to me, wiping his curly black hair from his green eyes. He was wearing a nicer than usual vest, and I briefly pondered why he might be dressed so fancily.

“Jack, have you logged today’s sales?” he asked, obviously have expecting me to.

“Yes, father, including 25 feet of rope..” I amended the former portion under my breath

“Did you include our monthly shipment to Markand’s farm?”

“Shipment? What shipment?”

My father sighed and moved me aside, tearing out the most recent log page and writing what I assumed to be his corrections. As he was writing, we heard the sound of drums approaching from the west and we both turned our eyes to face it. The recently blue sky had blackened with an ominous orange glow cascading the horizon, trails of smoke dancing along the skyline.

“Oh hell,” my father exclaimed “why didn’t you warn us about this?” But how could I have known? “There’s not much time, I have something you need to see, Jack.” My father continued, but his eyes began to scan around us. Snow began to fall and our road had become that of a frigid trail.

“But first you need to tend to the goblins.” My father redirected, leaving me completely baffled.

“Goblins? What are you ta-“ CUH-THUNK!

I jolted awake to the sound of a spear crashing into the frozen ground beside me.

“To arms! To arms!” I heard Gorack’s cry of battle thunder above the roars and cries of the crowd. These damned goblins have been picking us off night after night, and it would appear that tonight was no different. I quickly scanned the environment. The unarmed and the children huddled in the center of our group, encircled by a wall of self-appointed militia folk. Valor was nearby them, preforming what seemed to be a series of defensive chants. Arrows whizzed above head from the treeline behind us, what I could only assume was Leif picking off goblins as they charged forward. Gorack and Einar took the front line, and I fell in behind, holding tight my daggers. As I darted through the masses, I noted the voids producing fireballs of all sorts lobbing into the waves of goblins.

The battle crawled to a halt as the last of the goblins were executed, or were seen running off into the darkness. I cleaned my weapons and began tending to my wounds – nothing serious, but I found a few knicks and scratches that I hadn’t noticed in combat. The atmosphere was a mixture of cheers and tears as many gathered around, tending to the wounded or seeking healing for the most serious wounds. We had lost a few more, and while the number of goblins seems infinite, our numbers grew smaller as the nights passed.

My eyes crept back towards the east, towards our destination that we were all but crawling towards. The weather was harsh, taking lives just as mercilessly as the goblins did. These people, driven from their homes, from their lives, and some with nothing more than the clothes on their backs; they needed guidance, they needed protection, but most of all they needed hope. I volunteered from this night on to take double watch shifts.

After nearly a week had passed, I wasn’t sure why, but there seemed to be a small celebration and the attention centered around Valor. He delivered quite a moving speech, and I could see the dying flame of hope given a breath of life in the eyes of his listeners. Exhaustion had set in though, and I could no longer focus. I spent the rest of the next day slumped over the saddle of a horse, regaining the rest I would need for the several further nights to come.

My dreams arrive and faded in waves, but only one stood out among the rest. I saw many faces I recognized standing before me. In the front stood my father beside Sera and Ronnor. Countless members of the Syndicate standing behind them, all faces I knew. Without a word, their gazes struck me down with waves of disappointment, disapproval, and disgust. My father was the only one to speak, but it was cold, and he spoke as if I were a stranger to him.

“Of all the things you could have become, Jack..” he trailed off.

Jack Journal5 The Frozen March

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